It is originally out of one of my favorite books, Pleyn Delit, which makes it medieval.
Arabian Lamb Cakes - Maqlūa al-shiwā
Take cold roast, and cut up fine with a knife, adding the usual seasonings, together with walnuts: then proceed as for maqlūba, with eggs. If desired sour, sprinkled with a little lemon juice.
1 1/2 cup pieces of cold roast lamb
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp each ground cumin, cinnamon, pepper
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
olive oil for frying
juice of 1/2 lemon
Mix ingredients (not oil or lemon) and form small cakes. Fry in oil, turning over once. Sprinkle with lemon juice before serving hot.
My lamb was purchased ground. I cooked and drained it before using it (it was cold when I packed it to take to the demonstration).
I chopped the walnuts well, so no one would get a big chunk of nut in their lamb cake bite.
|An original sized piece included for comparison.|
First I mixed the meat, nuts, and all the seasonings together well. Then I beat the egg before adding it to the mixture.
|Post-egg. It looks moister.|
I preheated the pan and the oil. The first spoonful of the mixture was squeezed in my hand and set into the pan. It immediately crumbled!
|Definitely not a cake.|
I decided the mixture was too dry so I added another beaten egg. Now it looked very moist.
|Downright soggy now. The particles cling better, too.|
I tried making the little cake shapes again. I was very gentle in squeezing the mixture, in placing the cakes on the pan, and in turning them over once.
|Cooking on the first side.|
|Cooking after turning.|
Despite all that gentleness, nearly half of the cakes crumbled before being put on the serving platter. Very disappointing!
I piled the whole cakes mostly on one side of the platter and the broken bits on the other. Everything got a sprinkling of lemon juice. I garnished the dish with two more pieces of lemon and a sprig of mint.
I served them with the Sweet-and-Sour Olives and some tortilla chips for crunch.
|The chips were shy and avoided the photograph.|
The flavor was good: mostly the lamb came through and the spices were very subtle. I wanted more of a kick from the mint. The nuts seemed slightly toasted from the cooking, which I liked. The cakes weren't oily, which I appreciated. The lemon juice is a necessary ingredient to add some sparkle to a somewhat bland dish.
So success on the flavor, although I wanted more of a dance on my taste buds.
As a finger food, it was a failure. The cakes weren't robust enough to be finger food at all. I ended up eating most of the cooked meat mixture with a spoon.
I suspect that the addition of some dried bread crumbs would help with that. Perhaps if I make it another time, especially as a demonstration recipe, I would add some.
Side note: the liquid that the olives came in was also very good on the lamb cakes!